It is extremely important that you remember the following tips so that you are not intimidated into making any remark or statement that may later be used against you:
1. DOH licensure investigations are considered to be penal (criminal) in nature. Therefore, you have all of the same constitutional rights you do in criminal cases.
2. You cannot be required by anyone to make any statement to the DOH Investigator or to your supervisor relating the investigation. No action of any type can be taken against you for refusal to speak with or make a statement to the investigator.
3. Any statement, no matter how insignificant it seems, can and will be used against you by the DOH. For example, just agreeing or stating that you were working in a certain place on a certain day can be used to prove this fact in a later hearing. The state may not be able to produce witnesses or evidence to prove this against you, if you do not admit it. If you do admit it or state it, orally or in writing, then this is all the proof that is required in any hearing.
4. Do not mail the investigator a copy of your resume or any statement or documents of any kind. This can be used against you. (See #3 immediately above.)
5. If approached in person by an investigator tell the investigator you cannot speak with him or her as you must consult with your attorney first. Do not be intimidated or persuaded to make any statement or speak to the investigator any further.
6. It does not matter against whom the investigation was initiated. You may be added to the investigation or have a separate investigation begun against you based on this investigation.
7. If you have nursing malpractice insurance, immediately notify your insurance company and request assignment of an attorney to your case. Most nursing malpractice insurance also pays for DOH investigation defense.
8. If you do not have insurance, immediately attempt to locate and retain the services of a qualified, experienced health law attorney who has experience in handling Board of Nursing and Department of Healthy cases. Ask the attorney how many time she or she has appeared before the Board of Nursing in such cases. Contact The Health Law Firm, the American Association of Nurse Attorneys (TAANA), the Florida Nurses Association (FNA), the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) or other similar professional organization if you are unable to locate one on the Internet.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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